England Vs India: And India Batting Clicks, Take An Unbeatable 2-1 Lead In The Test Series!
In an innings that mattered most the Indian batting clicked in the second innings of the fourth Test match at the Oval right from the top to the bottom with the sole exception of Rahane who went for a duck. Facing an intimidating deficit of 99 runs India hauled up the highest of the Series total so far of 466 runs with their openers Rohit Sharma and Kl Rahul going about it very methodically—the former notching up his first ever away century (127) and KL Rahul (46) who was the lone centurion for India in the first three matches, unfortunately, fell short of a much-deserved half-century, at least. Pujara joined Rohit and between them they put up a 153-run partnership, and Pujara, going strong at 61, again failed to take it further to a deserved century as he missed one in the third Test too, getting out for 91 runs. Kohli maintained the momentum, but again fell for 44 runs, unable to take the way for a long innings he is mostly used to, and Jadeja (17) coming ahead of Rahane could not make it big this time. There was a bit of concern with India at 312/6.
Rishabh Pant, luckily, found his touch and was able to achieve his first fifty of the Series, and pacer Shardul Thakur did it again, picked up his second consecutive fifty (60) of the match, and later in the England reply took up the prized wickets of Burns and captain Joe Root who could not be the cause in this match. After that Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah—the new-found batsman—and Siraj contributed well to ensure a mammoth target of 348 runs for England to win.
England started very well with their openers Burns and Hameed remaining not out at stumps on the fourth day, and then on the last day today launched a century partnership with Burns getting out first for 50 at the score exactly 100. But after that England wickets fell regularly with the tragic run-out of David Malan early on, and Bumrah and Jadeja striking deadly blows later—the former clean bowling Pope for 1 and the dangerous Bairstow for a duck while the latter taking the scalps of Hameed and Ali. If England entertained any idea to challenge the target it was gone now. When Thakur clean bowled Joe Root for 36 with England reduced to 182/7 the match was in India’s pocket. England finally was done for 210 runs. India won the the Fourth Test by 157 runs which happens to be India's second Test win at the Oval after fifty years, the first win being in 1971.
It must be mentioned here that Indian captain Virat Kohli handled his bowlers quite professionally, switching between them strategically—getting a breakthrough almost every time. All the bowlers except Siraj, one of the heroes of the second Test, were among the wickets. This victory gives India an unbeatable 2-1 lead in the Test Series with the fifth and the last Test starting from the 10th of September 2021. And the victory comes following an innings defeat and India getting all-out for 78 runs; like in Australia when Rahane did wonders of winning the Series after being bowled out for 36 in the previous Test. The fifth match is likely to be fought tooth and nail as the hosts would definitely want to share the honors.
A few questions for India remain unanswered though. The precedence of Ravindra Jadeja over Rahane in the batting order for the second time is as inexplicable as keeping India’s best spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who is also a sound batsman with two tons eternally in the dressing room. However, as long as the team keeps winning everything is justified. Only the form of Rahane is becoming a big concern. His decimation in the batting order is also demoralizing for the star batsman. High time he proves to be a match winner again, more aptly in the fifth Test to script another Indian overseas series victory.